Are you looking to brush up on some local lingo ahead of an upcoming holiday? Perhaps you’ve started a new job where learning a language would be beneficial to your success in the role? Or maybe you just want to try your hand at getting to grips with another country’s dialect for no real reason other than extending your worldwide vocabulary!
Well, becoming fluent in a completely alien set of speech can be tricky but we’ve picked out nine fun, easy and useful tips to help you on your way…
The first one is probably the most cliché, but it’s important to do it right or you could end up parting with a lot of money for little reward. The temptation would be to join large group sessions where the price per person is low, but this can often make one-on-one help and tuition minimal.
Don’t just book onto the first course you see – read reviews, ask for references or go to a couple of taster classes before committing to make sure it’s right for you. Generally speaking, the smaller the group, the better as it means the tutor will be more able to teach at the pace you need.
We all never go anywhere without our phones these days and downloading one of the many language learning apps available makes studying on the move super-easy. Some are free, and some require a small purchase charge but the ability to teach yourself whenever you’re out and about or get a spare five minutes means it’s certainly a worthwhile expense.
Rosetta Stone, Duolingo and Babbel are amongst the most highly-rated, and the capability to save progress means you can pick up where you left off instantaneously.
It’s useful to have the capacity to translate words yourself, even before becoming proficient in your desired new language, whether that be when you’re actually abroad or when just going about your daily business. The Google Translate app makes interpreting mega quick, or if you’re tight on phone space, simply keep a tab open with the browser version so you can type in an expression or two easily.
Phrase books might be the old-fashioned way, but they too have the same benefits. Pick up a small one to keep on your person and whip out as and when needed.
Whatever language you’re looking to learn, you can be almost certain there will be someone else trying to get to grips with it too! Attending exchange classes means you can speak freely to others, and with confidence that everyone is in the same boat. Buddying up with a native speaker of the language you’re trying to get your tongue around who is perhaps wanting to brush up on their English means you can also both help one another.
Yes, seriously! Watching a TV show or movie which is either dubbed or originally filmed in your chosen language will help you get used to listening out for key words or phrases and, most importantly, the correct pronunciation. Doing this over and over should mean you will be able to process things quicker and quicker which will, in turn, cut down your hesitation time when holding a physical conversation.
Alternatively, watch in English with subtitles if you find keeping up with the storyline too difficult, though it’s widely thought the best way to learn faster is to do it the other way around.
Similarly, listening to music from the country of the language you’re looking to learn will also help you get used to hearing common words, phrases and understanding that all-important pronunciation in a different way. Again, doing this over and over will ensure your brain gets used to processing the dialect and translating it into the English equivalent faster and faster.
Ordering some food at a restaurant? Asking a passer by for directions? Arranging drinks with friends? Converse in English, but get into the habit of thinking how to say whatever you’ve just said in the language you’re learning. This keeps the mind ticking over so you’re always drilling it into your brain, even when speaking in your mother tongue.
Start reading blog posts or the website of a popular newspaper which is written in the dialect you are learning, which will also help you get used to seeing common words and phrases. This also assists with certain symbols which appear in sentences that require a different pronunciation than perhaps you’d think, such as ñ in Spanish for example, which represents a ‘ny’ as opposed to simply ‘n’.
When all said and done, practice really does make perfect! You’re hoping to become fluent in a different set of speech so get used to actually speaking it. Chat with another learner, a native speaker, even yourself, or anyone who’ll listen for that matter and it’ll really help speed up your learning.
What tips do you have for learning a new language?